Arcangelo wins the 2023 Belmont Stakes The victory makes Jena Antonucci the first female trainer to win the race in its 155-year history. It comes during a string of horse deaths in the sport.

Arcangelo wins the Belmont Stakes

Arcangelo, with jockey Javier Castellano, breaks away from the pack in the final stretch to win the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race on Saturday, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Mary Altaffer/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Mary Altaffer/AP

Arcangelo, with jockey Javier Castellano, breaks away from the pack in the final stretch to win the 155th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race on Saturday, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

Mary Altaffer/AP

A gray colt named Arcangelo won the Belmont Stakes, the third and final race of the Triple Crown series, on Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

The victory makes Jena Antonucci the first female trainer to win the race in its 155-year history.

"I don't have words yet," said a tearful Antonucci after the race. "We're trying to soak all this in — just so proud of this horse right now. It's amazing."

Now a barrier-breaker in a male-dominated sport, she offered an inspirational message: "Don't give up," she said. "If you can't find a seat at the table, make your own table."

As for her winning horse, she added, "He's just got a heart of a champion. He's just that guy."

Jockey Javier Castellano, who rode Arcangelo, also won his first Kentucky Derby this year aboard Mage.

Meanwhile, a spate of recent horse deaths have reignited scrutiny over the horse racing industry's safety practices.

Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held, suspended racing in Louisville after 12 horses died on the track since April. Earlier this month a horse was euthanized after being injured in a race at Belmont Park.

Industry leaders insist the sport is safer than ever; horse fatalities have fallen more than 37% since officials began tracking them in 2009, reported The Associated Press.

The Humane Society responded to the recent deaths on Friday: "Practices and conditions that fail to prioritize horse safety and reckless drug and medication use have created a deadly environment for racehorses, and potentially the entire racing industry. Without a genuine commitment to reform that puts the safety and well-being of the horses at the center of the sport, racing may be in its final days," said Keith Dane, senior director of equine protection.

Outside of Belmont Park, a group of people carrying signs gathered to rally against the "cruelty and death" of horse-racing as part of a protest organized by nonprofit animal rights organization NYCLASS, video on social media showed.